100 Years Ago… – The story of ‘The Martyr of Kabul’ by an eyewitness – Part IV


The Review of Religions [English], March, April & May, 1922

Click here for Part III

[Syed Ahmad Nur, the eyewitness]
Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed
Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheedra

[The passing of the blessed martyr of Kabul]

From Kabul, I [Syed Ahmad Nur] came to my own house which is at the distance of 30 miles. After some three months, while I was reciting the Quran in the mosque, I received the following revelation:

“They cut off the hem strings of the she-camel of God – had they been buried under earth and not born, it would have been better for them and this deed of theirs was not good.” I also received the revelation that by the she-camel of God was meant Sahibzada Abdul Latif, the blessed “Martyr of Kabul.” Then, I told some of my friends that Sahibzada Abdul Latif was murdered but all of them replied that it was not possible that such a man should be killed. 

My native village is on the bank of the river Judran in the Yuni tribe near the confine of Aryue. The name of my father was Allah Nur. I am a Sayad by caste. My father was also a singular man. In his lifetime, he used to say that Afghanistan was a dark country and that we should go to the east where a light had come down from heaven and he also used to say that we will have to leave this place and that if he were living, he would by that time also migrate. 

I went to Shum-Khel, the merchants of which place often go to Kabul and asked them about Sahibzada Abdul Latif. They informed me that he was stoned to death and his corpse was lying underneath a heap of stones as high as a tree. 

On hearing this, I made up my mind either to take out the dead body of the blessed martyr from underneath the heap of stones, no matter how high the heap may be, or be myself stoned to death like the blessed martyr. With this idea in my mind, I left for Kabul, and when I reached Shum-Khel the ruler of that place ordered me to go back to my home threatening to inflict condign punishment on me in case of non-compliance. I refused to comply with these orders and then the Hakim [ruler] bound me down for 200 rupees and then released me. 

I left that way and reached Kabul by another way. I met some of my friends in Kabul and told them of my object and asked them to show me the place where the blessed martyr was stoned to death. They were all very much frightened and told me that the blessed “Martyr of Kabul” was stoned to death in Hindu Sozan, i.e., the cremation ground of the Hindus. From that place, I came back and began to reflect whether the blessed martyr of Kabul was pleased at this undertaking of mine. I prayed to God at night and solicited Him to reveal to me whether my master, the blessed martyr of Kabul, liked this action of mine or disapproved of it. Then I saw in a dream that the Sahibzada Sahib, the blessed martyr of Kabul, was lying in a room, He opened the door and allowed me to come. When I went in and began to press his feet, I saw that he was wounded and that his condition had become worse. When I awoke, I became certain that the blessed martyr approved of my action of taking him out of that place. 

After this, I thought out a plan of taking out the martyr from underneath those stones. I saw in the army a friend of the blessed martyr and revealed to him the plan of taking him out. He was a Havaldar by rank. When he heard of the plan, he wept and said that he had thought of this beforehand many times, but he could not see in himself the power to undertake it and now as I had come, he will most certainly lend him a helping hand in carrying it out. Then, I told him to bring as many men as he could at the dead of night to the heap of the stones underneath which the blessed martyr lay and that I will bring the coffin and the scent at the appointed time. Then I got someone to carry the coffin and other necessary things to a graveyard nearby. In those days cholera was raging with so great a virulence that the people had become bewildered and so many dead bodies were brought to the graveyard that no one asked me how I had come there or what was in the coffin box. 

I kept on waiting for the Havaldar till mid-night, but he did not appear. Then I thought of taking the martyr out myself single handed. A short while after, the Havaldar came with his men and I then went to the Hindu cremation ground with the necessary things. When the blessed martyr was stoned to death, a guard was stationed there for the first three days. After this, the place was put in charge of the persons who guarded the magazine nearby lest anyone should take out the body of the blessed martyr. By way of precaution, we put one person on guard and the rest of us began to remove the stones. When all the stones were removed, the body of the blessed martyr appeared and it gave out such a sweet smell that it far exceeded in fragrance the scent provided by me. The Havaldar’s companions began to say that this person seems to be the same man whom the Amir had stoned to death and therefore the sweet scent was coming out of his body. 

I told them that the blessed martyr always used to recite the Quran and remembered God and this was the same odour which was coming out of his body. When we placed the dead body of the blessed martyr in the coffin, I learnt in a revelation that 50 persons with one sawar [horseman] were coming from behind a hillock on patrol duty. In those days the patrol used to walk round and no one was allowed to go out of the city and whoever was found walking out at night was killed without being called on to explain. Then I told those persons to be off and hide themselves as the night was moon-lit and the Government patrol was out. When we removed ourselves to a distance, then one sawar with 50 persons passed on that road to the magazine and stopping there for a while went back on the same road. After the patrol had gone, we came there and placed the dead body of the blessed martyr of Kabul in the coffin box. When we tried to raise the coffin, it became so heavy that we could not lift it. Then I addressed the body as follows:

“Dear Sir, it is not the time to become so heavy; we are already in great trouble and there is no one to lift the coffin, therefore I beseech you to become light.” 

After this, when we lifted the coffin, it had become so light that I said, I could lift it alone. But the Havaldar said the he would also help in doing this and taking off my turban he lifted the coffin with it. We took the coffin to a graveyard nearby and then placing the coffin box there I allowed the Havaldar and his men to go as he was a government servant. 

When the day dawned, I paid some money to the man in-charge of a ziarat (shrine) and with his help I took the coffin through the city of Kabul to the other side of a hillock named Balai Sar where there was the graveyard of the blessed martyr’s fore fathers and there I buried the martyr of Kabul with great solemnity. After his burial, I stopped at Kabul for a month so that if an arrest was to be made it was I who should be arrested and that the members of my family should not suffer any hardship on that account. But no arrest was made and then I returned home and told my people that I wished to leave the place for Qadian. Meanwhile, someone informed the Governor of the place that I wished to go to Mirza Sahib at Qadian and that I had given out that I was going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Governor sent his men for my arrest. They took me and my uncle to him. On reaching there, I told him that the report was made against me and therefore it was I who was to be arrested and not my uncle. I therefore requested that my uncle be allowed to go. The Governor was my acquaintance; he released my uncle and kept me in custody. Then I told the Governor that if I were going on a pilgrimage, I would have sold my property for the expenses of the way, but on enquiry it will be found that my property was intact and that I being a mere Zimindar [landlord] have got no money to proceed on a pilgrimage to Mecca. On hearing this, the Hakim kept me in custody for four days. Meanwhile, some persons came to me to stand surety for me but I refused this and told them that I did not wish to put them in trouble. As I was bent upon leaving the country and even if there were iron walls round me, I was determined to break through them, therefore I did not wish to entangle other persons for my sake. 

Some days after, I was released and went home and at midnight I determined to leave the country with the permission of my family. At night the numberdar [headman] of the village came to me and told me that he will not let me go because by my so doing they will be subjected to tortures. 

When I made up my mind to leave my native place, the whole land and my property appeared before me in a vision and addressed me whether I will thus leave them. I replied that I will weigh them and see whether the grace of God was better or the land and property. Then the whole vision disappeared and I addressed the numberdars of the village: “I and my forefathers taught you the word of God and now do you wish that the Governor may put me to trouble.” They replied that they did not wish that I should be put to trouble but in return they asked me whether I wished that the whole village be put to trouble. I replied that they had done their duty by informing the Governor of my intention to depart and that I was released after being kept in custody. Therefore, they could not be blamed by the Governor on the score of my leaving the country. 

But the numberdars persisted in not allowing me to depart. On seeing this, I was eventually so filled with rage that had I ordered the earth at that time to swallow them up, I thought it would have certainly taken them into its bowels. Then, I called on the numberdars to sit in the way to catch me and I challenged them that if I were the son of my own father, I would certainly pass by them. When the numberdars found out my determination, they fell at my feet and asked me not to utter any evil prayer against them, but they requested me to forgive them. I replied that they would only be forgiven if they would take me and my whole family and pass it across their frontier. Then the numberdars and these men took me and my whole family across their frontier and then I sent them back, and myself proceeded with my family. 

I had carried along with me a lock of hair of the blessed martyr of Kabul by way of memento and presented it to the Promised Messiah, peace be with him, who was very much pleased and put the hair in a phial and kept them in his Baituddah (prayer closet). 

Sahibzada Abdul Latif, martyr of the blessed memory, was a man of great learning and was paid by the Amir of Kabul 1100 rupees per annum. He was also the owner of much landed property and was the great Rais [chief] of his ilaqa [region]. But for the sake of truth, he sacrificed all his wealth, honour and glory. He accepted the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, and he did not spare even his precious life. The Promised Messiah[sa] often used to say about the blessed martyr that had he not come as the Promised Messiah[sa] of these times, the blessed martyr of Kabul would have come in his stead. 

Sons of Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif
Syed Abdul Hasan Sahib and Syed Muhammad Tayyab Sahib, sons of Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheedra

How they came to decide upon his manner of death, I have picked up as follows: 

When the term of his imprisonment which was three or four months expired, the blessed martyr was called to Shariat (a Board of Mullahs) and the Amir ordered the Mullahs that they should put questions to the blessed martyr and that he should answer those questions but he should not put any question in return. Then the Mullahs asked him many questions which he answered very well. In the end, it was asked what he considered of the Mirza Sahib who had laid claim to the Promised Messiahship. The blessed martyr replied that he considered him a true man sent from God as the Reformer of this age and that he had come at the proper time according to the Book of God, i.e., Quran. Then the Mullahs asked him about Jesus of Nazareth. The blessed martyr replied that he considered him as dead because the Quran included him among the dead. Then the Mullahs cried out that he had become a renegade, because the Quran pronounced Jesus as living while he called him as dead. Then all the Mullahs of that dark country called Afghanistan gave a unanimous verdict of a Kafir and so deserving of being stoned to death. The Amir was very much afraid of the Mullahs as he had very recently ascended the throne (viz., in 1901 and this horrible occurrence took place in 1903), therefore he made the blessed martyr over to the Mullahs who took him to the east of the city of Kabul where the Hindus burn their dead. The blessed martyr was going quickly and cheerfully to the spot where he was to be stoned to death. In the way, one of the Mullahs asked him why he was so happy and going at a quicker pace while he was chained and handcuffed, and was very soon to be put to death. The blessed martyr replied that these chains and handcuffs were nothing but the ornaments of the religion of Mohammad, the prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, and though he was seeing the spot where he was to be stoned to death yet he was happy because he thought he will soon go to God. After a little stoning, the martyr of blessed memory was asked by the Governor to repent for there was still time and he promised to let him free but the martyr told the Governor that he was a satan or devil who wished to turn him aside from the right path. Then the Mullahs showered stones on him and thus they stoned him to death. 

A year after the blessed martyr had been stoned to death and buried by me in the north side of Kabul in the graveyard of his forefathers opposite the Balaisar hillock, one of his disciples named Miro thought of carrying the dead body of the martyr to Saidgah. Accordingly, Miro secretly brought the coffin from Kabul to the residence of the blessed martyr and buried him there and made a very modest tomb over it. But Khan Ajab Khan, Tehsildar, resident of Zaida, proposed that a good sepulchre be raised over the coffin of the blessed martyr and [that he be] sent some money by way of aid for the purpose. The disciples of the blessed martyr prepared a good tomb over the tomb of the blessed martyr. After a time, when the people came to know of the sepulchre, they came to visit it from very distant places. At last, a report was made to the king that the remains of the blessed martyr who had been stoned to death were carried to Saidgah and were buried in a big sepulchre and that the people came to visit it from far and distant places and poured offerings over it. Sardar Nasrullah Khan, the brother of the Amir of Kabul, sent orders to the Governor of the Khost that the dead body of the blessed martyr be exhumed and thrown into water or burnt in fire and that the man who took the dead body from Kabul be punished. 

On the receipt of this order, the men of the Governor of Khost took out the bones of the blessed martyr from Saidgah and it is said that they were thrown into a river. Some people say that the bones were buried in some graveyard. Miro who had brought the dead body from Kabul to Saidgah was made to walk round the village with the people shouting: “This is the person who has brought the dead body of the Kafir who was stoned to death, and this is the punishment of him who had brought his remains.” 

In short, God saved the blessed martyr from his grave being worshipped. May God pour his blessings over the Great Soul of the blessed “Martyr of Kabul,” and keep him near the throne of His mercy. AmenAmen

Once the “Martyr of Kabul” in a fit of ecstasy gave utterances to the following verses:

از‭ ‬بسكہ‭ ‬در‭ ‬سیاحت‭ ‬راہ‭ ‬عدم‭ ‬شدم

ھمرنگ‭ ‬بموج‭ ‬بحر‭ ‬فنائے‭ ‬قدم‭ ‬شدم

[“I have travelled the path of ‘adam (to lose oneself) many times and I have surged like a wave in the ocean of fana (to annihilate oneself).”]

مجنون‭ ‬و‭ ‬ھوشیار‭ ‬گہہ‭ ‬مست‭ ‬و‭ ‬گاہ‭ ‬خراب

مدھوش‭ ‬جام‭ ‬حیرت‭ ‬لاء‭ ‬و‭ ‬نعم‭ ‬شدم

[“I have been intoxicated with the goblet of life and death where sometimes I was mad [in love of God], at times I was conscious and yet at other occasions I was unconscious and anxious.”]

بر‭ ‬أوج‭ ‬بوریائے‭ ‬ھمین‭ ‬نیستان‭ ‬خویش

فارغ‭ ‬شدم‭ ‬ز‭ ‬حسرت‭ ‬فرش‭ ‬حریر‭ ‬غم

[“I have been relieved of the longing for the silken throne of sorrow through the greatness of my sharp [uncomfortable] garment.”]

ارض‭ ‬و‭ ‬سمائے‭ ‬خلق‭ ‬ز‭ ‬موج‭ ‬فقیر‭ ‬ما

ذرہ‭ ‬صفت‭ ‬بحضرۃ‭ ‬دریا‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬زدم

[“The skies and the earth were created by the sacrifice of the saints. I have described the beauty of a single particle [of this universe] in the form of a river.”]

[Translated by]: Ghulam Mohammad Ahmadi, Campbellpur, [Attock]. 5 May 1922.

(The original is by Syed Ahmad Nur who is altogether unacquainted with the art of writing. He has therefore nothing but a simple, unvarnished tale which we hope will be all the more appealing accompanied though it be by a crudeness born of simplicity. Our thanks are due to the translator [Ghulam Mohammad Ahmadi] who in spite of his multifarious duties attached to a person of his position has found time to give it the English garb, adhering as far as possible to the original. Editor, The Review of Religions, 1922)

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original published in The Review of Religions, March, April & May, 1922)

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